But for me, buying groceries can be a very complex matter of sifting through various priorities. That's because I try to make purchases that reflect my values.
What are those values and why are they important to me? In approximate order of importance, they are:
- Grown, made and/or sold locally - to support local businesses and to reduce the fuel for transportation. I have a special preference for patronizing our local food co-op when possible.
- Organically produced - to reduce potential damage to my family's bodies and to help create a profitable market for methods that do the least harm to the environment.
- Fair Trade - As a Catholic, I believe it is important to show solidarity with workers by purchasing items for which a fair price has been paid.
- Not a "Red" company - I don't want to support any company that supports the Bush administration.
- Inexpensive - My family and I are following the Dave Ramsey plan to eliminate our debt, so I try to choose items that are good values and keep us within our budget.
- Low-carb - After losing 40 lbs on a low-carb diet several years ago, I look for items that will help me maintain that weight loss.
Why do I go to so much thought and trouble for what I buy? Because I realized that in our society, the power of the purse is one of the greatest powers that I as a consumer can wield. Money really does talk, and retailers really do listen. I believe it is no coincidence that the organic market has exploded over the past few years, since about the time I started choosing organic. I alone am not responsible for that, of course, but I am convinced that people like me - ordinary consumers making thoughtful, thought-out choices - are moving the market in the direction we want it to go.